There’s a point when you look up from all the thousands of items of merchandise that you’ve been sifting through and don’t remember where you are nor how exactly you got there. The space you are in is cavernous, linking showroom, marketplace and warehouse. Even though you are on the second floor, you might as well be in a dungeon, for there are no windows. Even though there are many clocks for sale, not one of them is ticking the correct time. To enter the labyrinth of IKEA is to lose all perspective of place and time. It’s like being in a casino. This is the mega-retailer’s master plan.
Scott and I had been making due with a small dining table tucked into a tight corner of our condo for many months. We’ve entertained around the glazed maple orb, even hosting a Thanksgiving feast for five, despite the fact that the table barely seats four. For the most part, as a couple, we dine on the sofa, the coffee table propping up our dinner plates and utensils. It’s all very newlywed, though technically, we are not newlyweds anymore. The table has ultimately been relegated to the function of catch-all for books, keys, mail and general clutter. With Christmas dinner for six only weeks away, we knew that we could not defer our furniture shopping into yet another year. It was time to bite the bullet and go to IKEA. I dreaded it.
IKEA, as anyone who’s ever visited knows, is a godsend to the economy minded: the college students, first-time homeowners, and retirees who seem to make up the bulk of patrons. It can also be a boon for anyone who wants to carry away their booty without having to squander whole days waiting for a traditional store to deliver your furniture. This is the key draw for me. Unfortunately, you do run the very real risk of squandering just as much time trying to wend your their way through the complex, made even more exasperating by the 360 degree spin of the shopping cart casters, designed specifically, I believe, to slow you down as you try to advance but instead careen sideways into the next display. This can shake even the most determined of buyers who study the online catalog, set their sites on their prey and memorize a schematic of how to navigate the loop. People like me. To be forewarned, however, is to be forearmed. Or so I thought.
After a careful study of our dining table options and an understanding of IKEA’s MO based on a handful of prior shopping expeditions, Scott and I reaffirmed our vow to resist impulse-buy temptations. We deliberately choose to go at dinner time to avoid the crowds, arriving at 6 p.m., with the goal of spending no more than an hour in the brash blue and yellow behemoth.
Our strict schedule was pretty much a success. Though it felt like several days before we got to the car, we had only actually spent ninety minutes there, a little over our allocation, but not enough to scold ourselves for lack of discipline. Our new solid birch mini-tables, enough seating for eight, were stacked in the trunk. My one impulse buy, a Swedish cookbook, was squarely rested in my lap. I had breezed by the pots and pans, the cutlery, the glassware. I had ignored the napkins, wall racks and mixing bowls. I didn’t see it coming; it was just there. Resistance is futile. --
Kroppkakor - Swedish Stuffed Potato Dumplings (adapted from Swedish Cooking by NGV Publishing ) [Yes, after last week’s gnocchi post, it’s potato dumplings again. Sometimes, you just don’t want to escape.]This post is being submitted to Vanessa of What Geeks Eat..., hosting Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of this popular food blogging event.
4 large Russet baking potatoes or other dry, mealy variety
1 egg, beaten
¾ -1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter or oil
3 cups finely chopped mushrooms
½ cup minced onions
1 tablespoon red wine
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Butter or oil
1 cup freshly chopped parsley
Either bake or boil potatoes until tender. When potatoes are cool to touch, press them through a ricer into a large bowl. Beat egg into riced potatoes until well mixed. Add salt and pepper. Incrementally beat flour into potato mixture until it becomes a stiff but malleable dough. Gather dough into a ball and place on well-floured surface. Mold, press and stretch dough out into a long blocky roll approximately 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. (Work in multiple batches if your surface is limited.) Cover with a dry dish towel. (If you want larger or smaller dumplings, you can resize the dough to suit your preference. I made mine the size of golf balls.)
In a large skillet, gently cook mushrooms and onions in the butter until soft and shrunken. Turn up the heat to medium, allowing the mixture to brown and crisp, stirring occasionally. Add red wine, salt and pepper, and continue cooking until the mixture resembles dark brown, finely chopped raisins. Remove from heat.
Cut the roll/s of dough at 2 inch intervals, then press a finger to depress the center of each piece of dough. Fill each depression with a little of the mushroom stuffing, cupping the dough in your palm as you close your fingers around it to bring together the edges into a ball, gently pressing and pinching the seams closed. Slightly dampen your hands to shape and smooth each dumpling. Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Gently drop dumplings into water without crowding them. Dumplings are cooked when they rise to the surface. Scoop them out of the water with a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Butter the dumplings then scatter the tops of them with parsley. Serve immediately while hot. Serves 4 generously. --
Been There, Done That ~
Sales Resistance & Potatoes
New England Potato Clam Chowder
Rosemary Roasted Blue Potatoes
Other People's Eats ~
Where's the Beef? - Potato Pancakes
More Than Burnt Toast - Ranch Mashed Potatoes